How to Pack Like an Olympian

Wise Packing

I have been fortunate enough to travel for my living, more of my life than not.

Part of the professional athlete profession has a lot to do with packing and being proficient at it. When I was younger I use to despise packing for trips. It would really overwhelm me, so I would procrastinate until I was normally packing until about 1-2 a.m. and then getting up at 4 a.m. to get on my flight at 6 a.m. I told myself that sleeping on the plane would be fine, but after getting married and having kids that bachelor lifestyle had to die.

Luckily my wife’s need to be early and on time for everything has rubbed off on me slowly but surely. She has helped me see how nice it is to have my bags packed and ready before the sun goes down on the eve of traveling. And I will admit, it makes life a lot easier! I wish I would have done it sooner. So, my first traveling tip is just that – give yourself enough time to think about all the details. Make a check list, lay it all out, and pack before dinner on your traveling eve. You will thank yourself at 4 a.m. the next day.

David Wise - pack like an olympian

Not only do I travel often, and to far away places, I also travel for long periods of time. This has taught me how much I need to pack, and I will share this brilliant revelation with you. ;) Whether you are packing for a week, a month, or a few months – you only need to pack for the first week. In other words, travel light! This is one of the best tips I can share with you. It really is possible.

If you’re traveling somewhere warm, you need even less than you think. And if you’re traveling somewhere cool or maybe mixed temperatures keep this in mind: layers. There are few places I can remember that did not have a washer to do a load of laundry after the week. If you have time, try to do another load of laundry before you pack to go back home. This way when you get back you can just put everything away. Or if you don’t have that luxury of time and, like me, are only home for a few days before leaving again, try this tip: Pack all your dirty clothes from your travel, come home and put it all in your laundry, then fold and repack the exact same items. This makes for a speedy turn around without getting stressed.

Here is my classic packing list for a Ski Trip:

1  Tank

2  T-Shirts

2  Long Sleeves

2  Base Layers

1  Over Jacket

2  workout shorts

2  pants

2  Beanies

2  Goggles

2  Helmets

2  gloves

Ski Jacket and Ski Pants


Bathing suit (Essential)

Toiletries (Don’t forget sunscreen- especially in the snow)

Extra Hair Ties, for these long locks of glory

David Wise - pack like an olympian

I almost forgot but didn’t, my Lucky Golden Ellen Boxers! She was thoughtful enough to replace my last lucky boxers that were ready to retire by the last Olympics, after I went on her show in 2014. I don’t really believe in the superstition stuff, but I have had lucky boxers for a long time. It is more of a special memory for me, or symbolic reminder of the goodness and grace in my life. Waking up on game day and getting dressed for the day, starting with a reminder of all the moments that have brought me to this place, reminds me to have a mindset of gratitude. It’s just a great way to start a big day.

This comes at no shock to anyone that we are living in the digital era. Which means there is a separate packing list dedicated specifically to that. One Item that is a must have for me is my e-reader. I am an avid reader. I read in between all my layovers, on the plane, during delays, and especially before bed. I cannot fall asleep without it! If you have a special item like this on your list, take this packing tip I have had to learn the hard way – make sure it makes it onto your leaving packing list! I have forgotten my e-reader under my hotel room pillows probably 5 times now in the last few years. Make sure you not only have a packing list to go traveling, but also a packing list to travel back home. Here is another helpful packing tip, make sure you charge all your batteries before you pack them. It is a hassle to do it when you get there.

Here is my essential packing list which starts with a great backpack with lots of pockets. I look for ones that have the easy laptop carrier, and a shoe hole for stuffing your jacket if you get too hot.

1  Backpack

Computer and Cords

Headphones, for the long airplane ride to Korea

Leather Wallet to hold my ID, Visa credit card, and some cash

U.S.A. Passport


Phone, Charger

Camera/ Tri-Pod/ Extra Batteries

Extra Memory cards in an organized compact


Packing Tip: Know your purpose of travel.

On this particular trip, I am packing for the Olympics, and some back-country skiing in Japan before my event. So my goal is to have everything I need to ski half pipe and powder. This is where my priorities lie and will be the most time consuming to do it properly. It is critical to remember the purpose for your travels and focus your attention on having everything you need for that. For the most part, in this day and age, you can always buy anything else you forget. My essential packing list for a ski trip starts with another awesome ski bag that will not rip and tear with all the heavy equipment you are carrying. And all of this:

Backcountry Skins

Backcountry Probe

Backcountry Beacon

Backcountry Shovel

2 pairs  Powder Skis

Touring Boots

2 Pairs of Pipe Skis with Bindings

Extra Pairs of skis, for “Justin” (Just in Case)

Super stiff Race Boots, Because I weigh 190 lbs

Extremely Short  Poles, because I tend to punch myself in the face landing switch.

And that is it! Zip it all up and load it in the car so you can join your family for dinner. Relax, watch a movie or play some games together for some much-needed quality time before you’re gone for a while. You should be able to get to bed at a great time and wake up bright and early feeling refreshed and ready to take on whatever travel frustrations come your way.

With good sleep the night before you’ll be able to be kind to the poor airport employee and airline attendants who are just trying to survive their day surviving you. ;) So cut them some slack. Sit back, read your book, and enjoy the ride. This way, you can avoid being written about in my next #travelthoguhts on Twitter. :P

Thanks for joining me on my Road to PyeongChang! I will see you in Korea.